By Teng L. Datu
Cotabato City Bureau Chief .
Cotabato City — To bring Tawi-Tawi closer to people from other places, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) opened the island province’s mock cultural village at the Office of the Regional Governor-Armm compound here.
The mock village representing the culture and tradition of the province is still part of the celebration of the Armm Pakaradjaan 2018. The original inhabitants of Tawi-Tawi are the Sama, a word derived from the term ‘sama-sama’ which means togetherness. The Sama people are peace-loving, no wonder the province has the lowest crime rate in the entire region.
Tawi-Tawi, tagged as an ‘Island Paradise,’ is known for its wonderful sceneries. Its peaks and beaches possess natural beauty that Sama people are truly proud of.
“Tawi-Tawi has the simplest among the five mock villages. It is based on what the province really is – peaceful and simple,” said village chieftain Dayang Carlsum Jumaide, Secretary of the region’s Agrarian Reform department.
One of the main attractions of the village is the replica of Bongao Peak, or Bud Bongao, the first eco-tourism park developed by the Armm. Bongao Peak is one of the 12 key biodiversity sites in the country protected under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project.
The region has developed Bud Bongao into an Eco-Tourism Park with the construction of a visitor receiving center, waiting sheds, view decks, solar-powered post lights, concrete paved steps and handrails, and a 400-meter access road.
Around 1,500 tourists visit the peak every week. In 2016, the region’s Tourism department recorded around one million tourist arrivals in Tawi-Tawi, notwithstanding the island province’s remote location.
Also featured inside the village exhibit is the coun-try’s oldest mosque. The Sheikh Karimul Makhdum Mosque is a National Historical Landmark as per declaration of the National Historical Commission and is recognized as a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum. (with reports from bpi armm)